Friday, December 7, 2012

Children Who Don't Want To Sleep

It'll happen on at least a few occasions that your child won't want to sleep or can't. They are very affected by changes in the way you put them to sleep and by the environments they're in. Although resilient, the slightest change to a child's sleep routine can have a fairly substantial impact on how they will sleep on any given night. What I find works best for our children is consistency.

Ewa, our oldest one, has gone through many restless nights over the past year and a half. For example, when she moved from a cradle to a crib in her own room. And then again when she started to realize that we were leaving the room at night.

More recently, she has moved into a single bed. With the freedom to wake up and leave the room whenever she pleases, she has found herself walking aimlessly down the hallway in the middle of the night.

Here's a story that explains what I've been going through.

I awoke again, sleepy and half-aware of what time it was. I pressed the only button I knew at this hour and the bright glow of the iPad lit up to show me the ungodly hour of 2:46AM.

Throwing the covers off, I could hear her small feet pattering on the floor, softly approaching. I quickly found my barrings and moved to meet Ewa in the hallway.

She was slightly startled to see me already out of bed. My intentions were to keep peace in the room I had just left; the room with an easily disturbed baby silently sleeping at this particular moment.

I picked Ewa up gently and we walked wide-eyed back toward the end of the hallway where her door stood earily open, black, and hauntingly inviting.

As I lay her back down and cover her gently, it occured to me that this might not be as easy as I was expecting. After all, we had just made the big move. It was her first night sleeping in her "big girl" bed.

I slowly crept away, hoping not to alert her, but it seemed that before I had even taken my first step toward the exit, I had been doomed.

"Dadda!?!?" she exclaimed, all teary-eyed.

I froze in place. I thought that if I held my tongue, her worrisome voice would instead turn into a soft rythmic pattern of breathing that would indicate her sleep cycle had begun once again.

"Mamma!?!?" she called this time.

I sat down next to the door, waiting hopefully for eventual silence, but she was awake. There had to be a way to get her back to sleep...

As I sat there, patiently intercepting all of her attempts at escape, I thought mainly of sleep but also of how to discipline such incredibly persistent behaviour. I wondered whether to spank, yell, hold her to her bed, or to give up altogether. Defeat was creeping up on me.

I was innevitably angry, it's what had fuelled my determination at such an early hour. I continued to work in silence, not risking too much confrontation. Such an act would innevitably escalate the situation and I'd likely find myself up all night.

As I pressed on with our little routine of her getting out of bed and walking to the door and then me picking her up—kicking and screaming—and tucking her in once more, I realised that she was finally tiring.

I put her in bed and tucked her in once more only to find that, although the crying hadn't stopped, she had decided not to leave the bed this time.

She slowly quieted down, only making the odd request for a bottle. I continued my silent discipline, only moving my feet on the floor and opening and closing the bedroom door in an effort to get her used to the sounds. I wanted to leave the room without disturbing her yet again.

A few minutes later, I was sneakily opening the door and walking back to bed.

She was asleep and I was about to find myself in the same state...finally.

~ Ken ~